Felipe Pagliery (Progreso Weekly)
HAVANA TIMES — Russian President Vladimir Putin said Saturday that he evaluates the rapprochement between Cuba and the United States as a positive step and welcomes the diplomatic thaw between the two countries.
The Russian president spoke on the subject during a meeting with the heads of 12 foreign news agencies at the presidential library in St. Petersburg. The executives were there at the invitation of the 12th International Economic Forum taking place in that city.
Part of the meeting was closed to the official Russian press, so the reports that emerged from it came from participants who paraphrased Putin’s actual words.
According to those reports, Putin said that he supported Cuba opening to the world and welcomed the new relationship between Havana and Washington, but added that such a convergence would not lead to a decrease in Russian influence in Cuba.
The Cuban people have suffered greatly from the economic embargo imposed by the United States since 1962, noted Putin saying a lifting of the embargo would have a positive effect on the island and the rest of Latin America, a region that he described as a priority for Russia.
Moscow, he said, intends to seek enhanced cooperation with the hemisphere. “We are for the development of the region,” one of the participants quoted him in a Tweet as saying.
Putin declined to comment on the situation in Venezuela, saying that it is not Russia’s custom to discuss the domestic policies of other countries.